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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 659806, 7 pages
Research Article

Families, Friends, and the Neighborhood of Older Adults: Evidence from Public Housing in Singapore

Health Services & Systems Research, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Level 4, 8 College Road, Singapore 169857

Received 15 May 2011; Revised 8 August 2011; Accepted 5 September 2011

Academic Editor: Lindy Clemson

Copyright © 2012 Treena Wu and Angelique Chan. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction. This empirical paper examines how the Housing Development Board (HDB) public housing neighborhood influences older urban Singaporeans' social interactions and ameliorates social isolation. Methods. Using 4,542 observations of noninstitutionalized urban adults aged 60 and above, ordered logistic regressions are run to determine the predictors of isolation while controlling for physical health and demographics. Results. 87% of older Singaporeans reside in public housing apartments while 13% reside in private market housing. The main predictor of social isolation is living alone and the second main predictor is coresidence with adult children. The relationship between coresidence with adult children and isolation is mediated when controlling for older adult functional limitations. The public apartment neighborhood and daily participation in public neighborhood events have substantial effects on reducing the risk of isolation. Older adult contact with friends alleviates isolation more than contact with non-coresiding relatives. Conclusion. Findings suggest that the public neighborhood-built environment in Singapore plays a positive role in the social interactions of the elderly. Knowledge of the factors that decrease the risk of social isolation will have implications for studying morbidity and mortality among the elderly.